16 July 2017

Delphine de Vigan: Les jolis garçons (2005)

Delphine de Vigan's Les jolis garçons is one of her earlier published works, and although it seems to be three short stories of three different men the narrator Emma has had contact with, and although the similarities which hold it together are merely the mention of Emma's brother Martin and the occasional reference to one of her other lovers in the stories, the (often very loose if not eccentric) French definition of the work seems to be 'novel'. So be it.

Each section of the book is named after the man in question, the first being the lawyer Mark Stevenson, who is married and only visits Emma for thirty minutes each day. As the section progresses the reader has to wonder exactly what happens in this short period as he seems to spend a lot of time on the phone while at Emma's, in fact he seems to be disappearing altogether from her life. Hardly surprising really because he's just a figment of her imagination: no wonder she needs a shrink.

The writer Ethan Castor's section disappointed me, probably largely because his only interest, while his wife's not in town, appears to be in bedding as many women as possible. And needless to say Emma's attracted, although this reader at least isn't too sure why: it must be his captivating books, about which nothing is revealed.

Milan Mikaev is a famous television presenter of whom Emma (wise woman) knows nothing as she's not into television. But Milan is obsessed with her when she snubs him in a café, continues to follow her until they're both playing cat and mouse, then both living together, then (media fest) going to get married. But then she quietly (while he's sleeping) walks out on him.

Maybe all three men here are supposed to be read as invented, or maybe not. Certainly themes Delphine de Vigan would later highlight in her books – truth versus fiction, alienation, an overall strangeness, the need for love and stability in an unstable world, etc – are all present here. Unfairly, I'm sure, a number of casual blog comments have more of less written off this book, when it clearly contains the seeds of the fruition of Vigan's writing.

Links to my other Delphine de Vigan posts:
Delphine de Vigan: Les heures souterraines
Delphine de Vigan: Rien ne s'oppose à la nuit
Delphine de Vigan: No et moi
Delphine de Vigan: Jours sans faim

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